50 Influential Jews: David Friedman - No. 27

The US ambassador to Israel under president Donald Trump, David Friedman was instrumental in the historic Abraham Accords and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. He remains deeply influential today.

 Former United States ambassador to Israel David Friedman. (photo credit: MATTI STERN)
Former United States ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
(photo credit: MATTI STERN)

Nearly three years since David Friedman stepped down as United States ambassador to Israel, he continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the US-Israel relationship.

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Friedman established the Friedman Center for Peace through Strength, which aims to build on the progress made by the Abraham Accords. He also authored a best-selling memoir, Sledgehammer: How Breaking with the Past Brought Peace to the Middle East, detailing his tenure as ambassador.

In his most recent project, Friedman starred in the feature-length film Route 60: The Biblical Highway, where he partnered with former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to explore Judea and Samaria, visiting sacred sites of great significance in both Christianity and Judaism while also sharing their historical and spiritual importance.

During Friedman’s time as ambassador under President Donald Trump, his impact on the crucial diplomatic alliance between Israel and America could be seen through key initiatives and policy changes.

One of the most notable accomplishments during Friedman’s time was the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Despite its controversial nature, this move was a significant symbolic gesture supporting Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital. 

Additionally, Friedman was instrumental in securing US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a region with strategic importance and historical significance. 

Perhaps his most notable achievement was his involvement in the historic Abraham Accords, which normalized diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab nations and marked a significant step toward peace and stability in the Middle East. For his efforts, Friedman was nominated for a Nobel Prize and received the National Security Medal.

Friedman remains deeply influential within Republican circles with regard to US-Israel policy. 

Friedman’s tenure was not without controversy. He openly supported Israeli settlements and opposed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These positions stirred debate and garnered both praise and criticism.